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May 23 2023

Money Motivation

Should our kids be motivated by money?

We guess the first question could be: are you? How does money motivate and affect you in your life as an employee or boss or stay-at-home parent or business owner? How do you navigate the complexities where money is involved in the grey and messy area between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation? Big questions, for sure.

Well, without a thousand-page manual on this (we could totally go there, but won’t [Dan Pink did in his book ‘Drive’ - we’d recommend this for a good read]), we’ll have to settle for short and sweet. We think money represents choices and the freedom to choose. This means: as the amount of money we have access to increases, the number of choices we have also increases, and the barriers to our freedoms to choose decrease. But, we also know that it’s a slippery slope, and some kids might put two and two together, and work out that they won’t do ANYTHING unless some money changes hands. It’s a tough one.

We reckon a couple of things might help create some great conversations with your kids about money as a motivator.

Focus on the choices

Money allows choices and the power to choose (and with great power comes great responsibility!!). Really it’s about money being a tool to allow you to do what you want to do. But we know doing what you want to do comes after doing what you have to do

Negotiate the Value of their Work (or at least frame it like a conversation)

Attitude and quality are important. We like to see our kids enjoying their earning opportunities (within reason - it’s hard to enjoy cleaning the toilet). We also like to see them taking pride in their work, and being rewarded appropriate to the job and their skilled completion of it. Bigger jobs take more time, more energy, better skill and more brain power - so we reward these jobs more. We just make sure we have this conversation first (and usually twenty more times again!) and work our way up to the big stuff. 


We’re pretty keen (some days more than others) for our kids to head off into the big wide world. To prep them as much as we can for this (without wrapping them in cotton wool made from free money, of course), more money allows them independence, and teaches them some great stuff along the way. 

Focus on job satisfaction

We’ve written about this before (here) but we’ll say it again. Focusing on the feeling of having done a good job is far more important than the money that comes at the end. The praise and the gratitude we shower on them for a tidy room or a squeaky clean floor helps our kids build pride in their work, and increases their internal motivation. Then they can have both, really. They feel good, and their SquareOne pocket feels good too - and those roller skates or movie tickets are that much closer.

Pull your weight, bucko

We’re also keen for our kids to take responsibility for some of the happiness and functioning of the household. Being in charge of something gives meaning and purpose outside of reward, and helps our kids see the benefit in chipping in and helping out.